The MGM Grand in Las Vegas is a lovely place. You can see the biggest EDM acts in the world at its fancy new club, or see the biggest pop stars and fighters do their thing at its arena. And you can bet on tiny plastic horses that run around a toy track and play blackjack on pictures of Steve Aoki’s face in its casino. But after the altercation between UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones and his latest challenger, Daniel Cormier, yesterday, it might be time to face a rather unfortunate fact: the MGM Grand’s lobby might have some sort of bad juju.
Pre- and post-fight mele can and do happen anywhere fights take place. Caesars Palace, another Las Vegas property, has a couple of famous boxing press conference meles to its name, for example. And some fighters have been known to pick extracurricular skirmishes everywhere from television shows (Lennox Lewis on ESPN, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazer on Howard Cossell’s show) to parking lots (Larry Holmes vs Trevor Berbick). But the poor MGM Grand lion who sits right in the middle of the property’s giant, gleaming marble foyer sure seems to witness a disproportionate number of fight-related fracases, stampedes and precursors to murder.
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier tearing up the UFC 178 media day like it’s a pro wrestling wedding is just the latest chapter in that lobby’s sordid history. Here are four other examples of how nothing good ever comes from mixing the MGM Grand lobby and fight cards. And a fight that occurred at the Fatburger just down the street for good measure.
This skirmish that broke out after Floyd vs Alvarez.
After Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated Canelo Alvarez on September 14, 2013, a bunch of fans took to the MGM Grand lobby, where they promptly ran around, screamed, threw wild haymakers at each other, kicked each other, and comically slipped on the glossy floor. The melee is a spirited affair, but as far as post-fight lobby fights at MGM Grand go, it’s relatively tame.
The post- Mayweather Jr. vs Maidana stampede that injured 50-60 spectators.
Depending on the report, between 50 and 60 people—including children and seniors—were injured in the stampede that occurred as a sold-out crowd tried to exit the MGM Grand Garden Arena after Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated Marcos Maidana by decision on Saturday, May 4, 2013.
The fire department were called in to, among other things, respond to a gunshot victim near the MGM food court. They later discovered that no shots were fired during the incident. As the Las Vegas Sun News reported:
There was no gunshot victim, and according to today's release [by the Clark County’s public information department], "it was later determined that some sort of wall or partition near the Starbucks in the food court fell over, causing a loud bang. This occurred when the crowd from the Mayweather fight (was) leaving the Grand Garden Arena. The loud bang caused a panic, and multiple people were knocked down and trampled during the panic."
So if you’re looking for another reason to hate Starbucks, you can add “had a small part in starting a stampede that injured innocent kids and old people” to your list.
The massive brawl that shut down the MGM Grand after Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear off.
What do you do when your night of fight watching gets cut short because one headliner indulged in a bit of proto-cannibalism? If you were in the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 9, 1996, the fateful night that Mike Tyson tore off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear with his teeth, the answer is “throw bottles at the ring, charge the MGM Grand casino, terrorize people and generally fuck shit up.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s account of the events:
Angry fans stormed through the hotel lobby, pushing and shoving into a crowd of thousands of milling hotel guests and tourists.
Some were knocked to the floor trying to scramble to safety. Potted plants were upended, gambling tables on the lobby periphery were overturned, dealers crawled for cover beneath tables and money tenders were on hands and knees scooping up spilled chips and bills.
Victims, some attended by rescue personnel, lay hither and yon along the long, tiled, mall-like Studio Walkway that leads from the arena to the casino and to the main lobby.
Gunshots were also reported at the scene, but none were confirmed by police or the MGM Grand.
40 to 45 people were taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries and one fractured ankle as a result of the fight. Most of the Grand’s gaming tables, restaurants and shops were closed for up to two hours in an effort to control the violence. It was the first shutdown in the casino’s history.
Sadly, it wasn’t the first major fight in the MGM lobby that year. Nor was it the most tragic.
The fight that lead to Tupac Shakur’s murder.
After watching Mike Tyson knock out Bruce Sheldon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 7, 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur attacked a member of the Crips gang in the lobby for messing with a member of the Death Row entourage in an earlier altercation. Shakur’s entourage, along with Suge Knight and his posse, jumped in to help. The entire fight was caught on the casino’s surveillance cameras.
After the fight broke up, Shakur and Knight left to attend a party at Club 662. On the way there, the hip hop star was hit multiple times in a targeted drive-by shooting. Shakur died as a result of those injuries six days later.
The murder remains unsolved, although members of the Crips and rapper and famous 2Pac-hater Biggie Smalls (who was allegedly staying at the MGM Grand that night) remain popular suspects in both official reports and conspiracy theories.
Honorable Mention: That time Mayweather and T.I. fought at an MGM Grand-neighboring Fatburger.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. was hanging out at the Las Vegas Fatburger, located just a short walk from the MGM Grand and its infamous lobby on the Strip, when rapper T.I. showed up to confront him about having an affair with his wife on May 24, 2014. T.I. insists that he didn’t intend for things to get physical, but he lost it when Mayweather told him to “Control your bitch” and started swinging with fists as unbridled and unneeding of his control as his alleged “bitch.” One Fatburger employee was stabbed in the ensuing brawl.
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